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The Vitality of Liberation Theology.

The Vitality of Liberation Theology. By Craig L. Nessan. Eugene, Ore.: Pickwick Publications, 2012. ISBN-13: 978-16109-7994-8. vii and 150 pages. Paper. $20.

The Latin American liberation theology is not a heritage site; it is rather a living movement with continued vitality. It midwifed emergence of similar liberationist theologies across the globe and impacted the theological enterprise in many significant ways. It is as relevant today as it was forty years ago.

Nessan organizes the above-mentioned argument in three parts. In the first three chapters, he locates the origins of the movement in the politico-historical context of Latin America and identifies its immediate theological contributories. This section ends with a quick but helpful survey of its history. By identifying the sources in both Catholic and Protestant traditions, Nessan subtly underlines the trans-confessional character of liberation theology.

The following three chapters introduce distinct features of liberation theology. Its hermeneutical lens, method, and locus distinguish liberation theology for its contemporaries. Nessan at the same time cautions us against blanket generalizations. The short section on the possible contribution of liberation theology to Lutheran tradition recognizes the initiatives taken in that direction and invites Lutheran communities to engage liberation theology in their articulation and practice of faith.

The final three chapters analyze the responses of the church--Roman Catholic and North American Protestant--and academia. In response to the critics, Nessan illuminates us on what aspects of Marxism and what forms of violence liberation theologians affirm and reject. He also rebuts the criticism that liberation theologians tend to "politicize" the gospel by pointing to four western theologians who underlined the social dimension of the gospel. To conclude the book, Nessan highlights the contributions of Latin American liberation theologies to the emergence of other liberationist theologies across the globe.

A further analysis of the contributions of liberation theology to other forms of contextual theology and its continued interaction with them would have been helpful to demonstrate its vitality. Both experts and first-time readers would find Nessan's analysis of the history, thought, and the relevance of liberation theology illuminating and insightful.

James Elisha Taneti

Campbell University

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Author:Taneti, James Elisha
Publication:Currents in Theology and Mission
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jun 1, 2013
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